MatchDay: Toronto FC at Timbers

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

TORONTO FC AT TIMBERS

When/where: 8 p.m. Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

TV: Live on ROOT Sports (Comcast cable channels 34 and 734).

Radio: AM 750/FM 101 (AM 940 Spanish broadcast).

Records: Toronto is 3-11-9, last in the East. Portland is 6-10-3, eighth in the West.

Why to watch: If the Timbers are going to make a playoff push, this looks like a must-win game.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Portland Timbers

Forwards: Jorge Perlaza.

Midfielders: Kalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, James Marcelin.

Defenders: Rodney Wallace, Eric Brunner, Mamadou “Futty” Danso, Lovel Palmer.

Goalkeeper: Troy Perkins.

Key alternatives: MF Sal Zizzo, F Kenny Cooper, F Eddie Johnson, D-MF Jeremy Hall, GK Adin Brown.

Toronto FC

Forwards: Ryan Johnson, Danny Koevermans, Nick Soolsma.

Midfielders: Gianluca Zavarise, Torsten Frings, Nathan Sturgis.

Defenders: Danleigh Borman, Andy Iro, Richard Eckersley, Eddy Viator.

Goalkeeper: Stefan Frei.

THE MATCHUP

Must win? If Portland is going to make a real push for a playoff spot, beating struggling Toronto is critical. Coach John Spencer isn’t shying away from the must-win talk.

Key matchup: Portland’s attack against Toronto’s defense. Toronto has allowed 41 goals — by far the league worst and 22 more than it has scored. Only four teams, including Toronto, has scored fewer goals in league play than Portland’s 21 through 19 matches.

Spencer says: “I think we all know the importance of the game. We all want to get to the playoffs. The games are ticking down. Points are dwindling away. Less games means less points to get. We’re just on the outskirts of playoff position. You get 2-3 wins, or go undefeated for 3-4 games, you get a chance to position yourself right in there. We’re not a million miles away.”

NOTABLE

Toronto shakeup: Toronto has added nine new players this month in a significant shakeup. Among the interesting addition are German national team veteran Torsten Frings, and former Oregon State forward Ryan Johnson.

Focus for Toronto? From Portland, Toronto travels to Nicaragua for a Tuesday CONCACAF Champions League qualifying match against Real Esteli. Question is, will coach Aron Winter rest some regulars for Tuesday?

Injury report: Timbers — Out: DF Kevin Goldthwaite (knee, ACL rupture); FW Spencer Thompson (knee); Probable: F Bright Dike (Achilles rupture); D Jeremy Hall (groin soreness); GK Troy Perkins (hip soreness) ... Toronto FC — Out: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (knee surgery recovery); DF Adrian Cann (knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (knee surgery recovery); MF Leandre Griffit (abdominal strain); Questionable: MF Julian de Guzman (knee swelling); MF Terry Dunfield (adductor strain). Suspended next yellow card: Portland: Rodney Wallace ... Toronto: Terry Dunfield. Suspended after two yellows: Portland: Diego Chara, James Marcelin, Lovel Palmer ... Toronto: Danleigh Borman, Ryan Johnson, Javier Martina.

FAN GUIDE

Tickets: Only single tickets remained on Friday. Gates open: 90 minutes before kickoff.

Getting there: Parking is extremely limited near the stadium. MAX light rail runs extra trains on match days.

Radio: 750 AM has one-hour pregame and postgame shows.